plex problem playing this item

A Plex problem playing this item error occurs when users play a video file that’s in MKV format or use the Plex Media Server 0.9.17.X and above.

First-time users usually encounter this problem.

If you see the pop-up error “Sorry, there was a problem playing this item.”, update Plex. New app versions are constantly released, and the latest updates usually fix bugs that may cause the issue. Updating is simple through the hosted Plex Web App.

Plex is a global streaming media with millions of users. It can be annoying if you can’t stream videos, audio files, and photos from online services to its player.

So, in this post, we are going to focus on how to fix the issue of Plex “there was a problem playing this item.”

Causes of Plex Problem Playing This Item Error

If you have been streaming videos on Plex and get the Problem playing this item error, don’t panic.

There are many reasons why this happens. Knowing the cause of the problem will allow you to use the appropriate solution.  

First Time Users

Setting up and installing the Plex Media server requires time and effort.

If you are a first-time user, you may have overlooked some essential considerations, causing the app to stutter, buffer, or sometimes not even play files at all.

Bugged Plex Version

Plex Media Server 0.9.17.X and above changed how codecs are used, causing the issue.

Since these versions’ transcoders work differently, they don’t generate the AC3 codec properly.

Mkv Files Not Supported

Mkv is compatible with Plex. However, subtitles still need to be burned on the video, where the issue begins.

The file needs to be transcoded in order for you to play it.

When these happen, you cannot play a move on Plex. The good news is that you can fix the error in several ways.

How to Fix Plex Problem Playing This Item Error

fix plex problem playing this item

Solutions to the “Plex problem playing this item error” include updating Plex, deleting old devices, changing transcoder settings, downgrading the server, and clearing disk space.

Read on for a detailed explanation of these fixes.

Solution #1: Update Plex

update plex

The first step to fixing any app problem is updating. When you see the pop-up error about Plex not playing an item, check whether the app is up to date or not.

When you have been using the app for a long time, it’s common to lag.

You need to update the app to fix the bugs that slow down its performance in such a case.

First, check if you have successfully updated your Plex app.

  1. Launch the hosted Plex Web app.
  2. Click on Settings in the upper right corner.
  3. Click on General under Settings.
  4. You will see the version number on that page and whether you are using the most up-to-date version.

Note: If you already have an app open in your browser, refresh the browser page to load the new version.

Solution #2: Delete Devices Linked to Plex

Plex allows you to link several devices to your account, including Plex Cloud, Plex Web, Roku, and Android.

If you use too many devices, the media player may stop working.

This may be due to device conflict, which occurs when the devices are using the same memory, interrupt request, and other server resources, or when they are running at the same time.

In other cases, Plex may stop working when your account has multiples of the same device.

For instance, the same web browser is listed several times. Each browser is an independent stance that may use your server resources.

To avoid conflicts and errors in the future, delete or remove old devices linked to your Plex.

  1. Sign in to your Plex Account.
  2. Open Devices List.
  3. Locate the devices you have added. 
  4. Click on the [red X]to delete specific devices from your account.
  5. Confirm the process.

Note: If you remove a device, you have to sign in again to your account on the device to restore access to Plex. 

Solution #3: Downgrade the Server

downgrade the server

The “There was a problem playing this item” error can also occur when upgrading the media server to a new version on Windows.

When this happens, consider downgrading the media server to the previous version to fix the issue and continue watching your shows.

  1. Note your current Plex Server software version.
  2. Using the tray icon, stop Plex Server.
  3. Go to Apps to uninstall Plex.

Note: Do not use 3rd party uninstaller software and registry cleaners/optimizers.

  1. Go to your Plex data folder 1.4k.
  2. You will find the Updates subfolder containing the previous versions of the installer.exe.
  3. Execute the installer for the previous software version.

This solution may work even without rebooting your Windows, but as a safety measure, reboot Windows.

Solution #4: Clear Disk Space

clean disc data

The recent versions of Plex consume a lot of disk space. If you don’t have enough disk space, you will encounter problems in due time.

All you need to do is clear some disk space to fix the issue.

  1. Open the Start menu and go to Settings > System > Storage.
  2. Set Storage Sense onto let Windows delete unnecessary files automatically. 

To delete files manually, open Start, then choose Settings, then System, then Storage, then Cleanup recommendations.

Select the temporary files, unused files, files synced to the cloud, and unused apps you no longer use. Then, select Clean up.

Note: You may also move files to another device freeing up extra space.

Simply connect your removable media device, then cut and paste the files you want to move.

Solution #5: Change Transcoder Settings

Transcoding refers to the process of converting video files into a size that will consume less data so that they can play smoothly.

If you have a “Plex there was a problem playing this item mkv,” this is the best approach.

  1. Go to the Homepage and click the Settings menu.
  2. On the Settings menu, click on the Transcoder option.
  3. Change the quality by clicking the dropdown menu.

Choose from the four qualities listed below:

  • Automatic – Plex Server selects the quality automatically
  • Make my CPU hurt – Chooses the best quality of images, which may slow down transcodes and encourage a higher CPU usage.
  • Prefer higher quality encoding – Transcodes slowly but at a higher quality
  • Prefer high-speed encoding – Allow for faster transcodes but at a lower quality

If your Transcoder is Automatic and you are getting the error, change it to any of the three. Find which option fixes the issue.

Read Next: Plex There Are No Items In This Library (Fixed)

Last Thoughts

Thus, to solve an issue with your Plex not playing an item, check if you have successfully updated your Plex app. Go to Settings. Click general and check the version number if it is the most up-to-date version.

If not, launch the hosted Plex web app and update.  

If you encounter a Plex problem playing this item error, this post will help you understand the cause and provide you with the best approach to resolve the issue.

If none of the above solutions worked, contact Plex technical support.

If you find this post helpful but have another problem with your other Plex setup, you can find other articles about your problem in our blog.

Nicole B